By Eric Vandenbroeck and co-workers

Realist balance-of-power theory in Asia

Realist balance-of-power theory in Asia predicts that, in the likely absence of U.S. security presence in Asia, Japan would have no choice but to rearm.1 Constructivism instead,  refers to the international context as explaining why bilateral security and economic relations were preferred over multilateral cooperative arrangements. As discussed by Katzenstein and Okawara, realism cannot predict whether Japan will balance against the United States as the only superpower or against China as the rising regional hegemon.2 Similarly, Japan might also choose not to resist accepting a central position of China in Asia-Pacific rather than attempting to counter it. 3 As argued by Kang, "Japan has not rearmed to the level it could because it has no need to, and it has no intention of challenging China for the central position in Asian politics."4

In contrast, Tamamoto argues that, Japan has an aversion to any Chinese will to regional supremacy, this being deeply rooted in threat perceptions of Japan's ruling elites. Such questions, however, will not be settled through pure strategic thinking. Japan's choice will ultimately reflect the way it perceives itself and its Others. The ideational context shaped by perceptions of Japan toward its neighbors as well as those of its neighbors toward Japan will determine policy choices. Security interests are defined by actors who act in response to the ideational context, and, in process, their actions become part of the context. There were often interrelated structural material and nonmaterial factors that prevent a similar development of an Asian regionalization process. First of all, structurally, both pre-Cold War and post-Cold War contexts of Asia and Europe are different. The United States supported multilateralism in Europe during the Cold War in the form of NATO and the European integration process. These existing frameworks were helpful in building a common identity among Europeans and in integrating formerly communist East European nations after the end of the Cold War. This was not the case for Asia. The United States preferred forming their alliance with Japan and South Korea through bilateral security treaties. Hence, there was no existing framework for building a common identity to prepare the ground of post-Cold War regionalization. Rather, Asia was characterized by a stronger degree of nationalism and deeply rooted historical animosity against Japan, particularly in China and Korea. During the Cold War, Japan benefited from its security reliance on the United States to achieve a remarkable economic development rate. Yet this also ensured that it did not have to face up to its history. The United States did not follow policies that could lead to a regime change in Japan. The Japanese emperor was cleaned from all war crimes allegations and particularly after the reverse course in American occupation policies, leading members of the old Japanese elite to be brought back to power. Thus, throughout the Cold War, Japan under the leadership of the LDP, preferred to escape from its history rather than agreeing to confront it and open a new page in its relations with other Asian countries. After the Cold War, the shadow of history worked to prevent Japan from utilizing its accumulated economic wealth to create regionalization processes. On the level of perceptions, both Japan and Asia remained far from each other. Under the hegemony of the Yoshida School which sought to utilize relations with the United States for Japanese economic development, Japan managed to escape from its history. In sharp contrast with Germany, for instance, whenever Japan was caught in between the United States and East Asia, the preference was always the United States. The primary reason for this was Japan's inability to develop a consensus on addressing its historical constraints. Despite the shock of the Gulf War, Japanese political, economic, and intellectual elite could not reach an internal agreement on what would be its vision and identity. As Keio University professor Kazuya Fukuda argues, "we could afford to have no direction in the past when our economy prospered, but international problems are shaking the country's foundation, which is built on international order. We need a clear national identity."5

Yet the question is how to define this national identity. Japan had a clear direction in the Cold War era: Western foreign policy orientation designed to achieve economic development but to avoid sharing security responsibilities. As it became clear with the end of the Cold War and dramatically displayed with the Gulf War, this magic formula was no longer working. The post-Cold War era was being increasingly characterized by intense debates on the future direction and orientation of Japan.


Japan’s Failure to “Escape from Asia”

The hegemonic Japanese approach during the Cold War was the Yoshida Doctrine, characterized by Japan’s reliance on the U.S. security system to develop itself economically and expand its economic sphere of interests. Even though Yoshida himself believed that it was necessary to keep Japan away from a deeper integration with the U.S. regional security system in order to avoid affronting China and other Asian neighbors and to prepare the way for eventual development of an Asian community, he could not escape American pressures which dictated to him a foreign policy made in the United States. Hence Japan always supported the position of the United States wherever there was such a demand. More hardliner Japanese leaders such as Kishi were even more enthusiastic in implementing this view. They sought to return Japan to its normal power status by means of the alliance with the United States rather than in spite of it. In doing so, they ended up making Japan more dependent on the United States and unable to exert itself as an independent power in Asia. With the end of the Cold War, however, areas of conflict appeared to be enlarging. One reason was the regionalization processes in other economic poles of the world, namely, Europe and North America. Japan could not respond to European integration and creation of NAFTA in the form of creating or helping to create an Asian regional group. There were calls on Japan from Southeast Asian nations to create an Asian economic integration such as the formation of the East Asian Economic Caucus (EAEC) as proposed by Malaysia. However, Japan always prioritized its relations with the United States for two reasons: first, the United States was Japan’s primary economic market, and second, it relied on the U.S. security umbrella. Under both the Yoshida and Kishi doctrines, Japan developed its trade relations with Asian nations only as an extension of its relations with the United States. Actually Japan developed its relations with Asia only to the extent the United States allowed it. In this regard, Japan was part of the U.S. global grand strategy. It was a stranger in the region in which it was geographically located.

Japan was always cold to the idea of creating an Asian economic integration in the form of a trade block and monetary system. Instead it preferred the loose mechanism of the Asia Pacific Economic Caucus (APEC) that incorporates East Asian economies together with the United States, Canada, and Australia. APEC is a nonbinding forum for dialogue rather than an institution for decision making. Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir campaigned for establishment of an Asian grouping, East Asian Economic Group (EAEG). The group would bring together a core of East Asian states that arguably shared a common culture and value system.7 Eventually, the establishment of the East Asian Economic Caucus (EAEC) was finally achieved but only in a much watered-down format. Realism would point to structural factors in explaining Japan’s uneasiness to contribute to a regionalization process that would exclude the United States. The primary structural factor was China’s emerging power. Although the Japanese economy was several times larger than that of China, the prospects of a Chinese hegemony in East Asia was real. Given the Chinese population of over one billion people in addition to Chinese­ dominated economies of Southeast Asia, it was not possible for Japan or for Southeast Asians to balance this power. However, this realist perspective does not provide a sufficient explanation of the Japanese position vis-a.-vis Asian regionalization without the input of nonmaterial factors, namely, identity as rooted in history. In the words of Funabashi, “it appears that history.. .has become the leading player on the East Asian international political scene where the past is more unpredictable than the future.”6


Towards a Re-Asianization of Japan?

Although many nationalists interpreted the post-Cold War era as requiring a more assertive Japanese foreign policy, many called for a reevaluation of Japan's approach to Asian regionalization. Koyabashi Y otaro, one of Japan's influential industrialists and Chairman of the Board of Directors of International University of Japan, championed these demands for a "re-Asianization of Japan." He argued: Since the Meiji Restoration in the late 1800s, progress in Japan has been guided by an official policy of de-Asianization and pro-Westernization. Adhering to this policy seemed a rational and natural course, as Japan was driven to develop its technology and economy in order to take its place among advanced nations of the West........Yet Japan's single-minded drive for modernization took place at the expense of something very significant-the friendship and trust of other Asian nations. Today, Japan should be pursuing a path of "re-Asianization." This term may easily conjure up an image of Japan isolating itself within the boundaries of Asia, or placing itself at the center of Asia by dominating other countries in the region. This is not the case. The re-Asianization I am promoting is not exclusive. Rather, it involves strengthening ties in Asia, while at the same time maintaining close relations with the West.9 Koyabashi acknowledges that Japan alone cannot be the leader of Asia and argues that Japan should be the coleader of Asia with China. 10 Funabashi Y oichi, a leading columnist of Japan's liberal daily, Asahi Shimbun, argues that "East Asian regionalism and the Japan-U.S. alliance can compatibly build a relationship of prosperous coexistence." In his view, Japan is not in a position to choose one over the other: "Japan must overcome its dependence on the United States and its fear of China and develop its own Asian vision."11 More recent, Keizai Doyukai, an association of corporate executives, published a proposal regarding Japan's role in today's world. The proposal called for a greater economic integration in Asia and supported abolishment of the yen in favor of creation of a common Asian currency.12

Another such effort was a 1993 article written by a senior foreign policy bureucrat Ogura Kazuo, Ajia no Fukken no tameni (for a Restoration of Asia). Ogura argued that Asian countries had to get rid of their Western­ minded elites and overcome past anomosities in order to prepare itself for a Asian century. Ogura asserted: As we prepare for the twenty-first century, we must seriously reaxime the role of these Western-oriented intellectuals and leaders... [who] are using their links with the West to maintain the legitimacy of their superior position. What we see is in a sense a survival, although under a different guise, of the old colonial arrangement by which natives with Western learning could skillfully develop ties with the rulers and thereby dominate the un­Westernized general populace. Under these circumstances, members of the political elite have been hesitant to stress Asian values lest they undermine the legitimacy of their own power.13 These demands for Japan to reevaluate its position in Asia have increased following the Asian financial crisis that primarily hit the Japanese economy.

The 1997 Asian financial crisis came as a shock to many Japanese. Despite enormous effects on the Japanese economy, Japan could not respond to this crisis efficiently. The Asian financial was caused by the massive outflow of foreign capital from key Asian countries, starting with Thailand and quickly spreading over Southeast Asia and South Korea. In 1996, about $100 billion flowed into East Asia, but in 1997, $150 billion flowed out in the three months after July. Only China appeared to resist the crisis due to its stringent policies on controlling capital outflow and fixed currency regime. The Japanese economy was adversely affected by the crisis due to the significance of Asian markets for Japan. IMF and proponents of the neoliberal economic system argued that domestic policies had caused the Asian financial crises and the only way to exit the crisis was through implementation of the IMF austerity programs. However, this argument was not accepted by some Asian governments, most notably Malaysia.14 Many Asians believed that Asia had to have regional financial arrangements to protect themselves from similar volatility in the future. In Japan, there were calls to address the crisis independent of the United States. For instance, Shintaro Ishihara, Japan's most outspoken nationalist, argued: Japan should put its glut of financial capital to good use by transforming it into an effective investment. There are numerous ways of creating products more attractive than U.S. treasury bonds. Under a sort of Marshall Plan for Asia, an Asian Recovery Bank could be established on Japan's initiative. As East Asia has more energy than any other developing region, it ought to be possible to get people to buy into its future, especially if the Japanese government showed confidence by guaranteeing investments in [the bank].

This is a battle of minds and money. Japan has a historical responsibility toward the East Asian countries which, as America's prey, are being slaughtered en masse. It needs a new strategy. We should challenge Asia with an Asian standard that exists within a fair and free framework.13

The Japanese government, under the leadership of Vice Minister of Finance Sakakibura Eisuke, launched an initiative to establish an AMF. Surprisingly, for the first time since Second World War Japan assumed a pan-Asianist approach, by proposing establishment of an Asian Monetary Fund (AMF). It would create a $100 billion fund provided by East Asian states with a regional financial surveillance mechanism and emergency loan facility to detect and suppress future financial crisis. This regional fund would in practice replace IMF in East and Southeast Asia, although Japanese officials stressed that AMF would supplement and reinforce at a regional level existing IMF surveillance and loan facilities. However, IMF and U.S. officials were clearly concerned that the AMF proposal would undermine IMF's austerity programs by softening the level of conditionality.16 Both the United States and China but not South Korea were concerned about the rise of a Japanese leadership and hegemony in the region. Instead the United States advised Japan, in the words of U.S. Commerce Secretary William M. Daley, that "the most important contributions Japan can make to restore stability and growth in Asia are to take steps necessary first, to strengthen domestic demand; second, to deregulate Japan's economy; and third, to open up Imports."17

After external pressures, Japan had to give up the idea. In the view of critics, "Japan appeared once again to have crumbled in the face of U.S. pressure and to have prioritized the U.S.-Japan bilateral relationship over its commitment to any form of regional multilateral cooperation.“18 For instance, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed remarked that Japan had lost the will to be "lead goose in the region," supposedly Japan's role in the flying geese theory of economic development.19 Sakakibura resigned in 1999, but he did not appear to lose his interest in the idea albeit acknowledging its difficulty: The whole idea of regional cooperation is proceeding, although gradually. There are now discussions among China, Korea and Japan going on. ASEAN countries are inviting Korea, China and Japan to participate in their cooperative schemes. It has started to move and that is good. But I don't think a monetary fund can be established in a short period of time....................... I feel it is absolutely necessary for Asian countries to develop a regional mechanism. If we cannot develop a regional mechanism, we have only two options: belong to the U.S. dollar zone or the European grouping. But I would like to see a third pillar in the world economy.20

When the proposal was killed, Japan created the Miyazawa Fund to provide liquidity to crisis-ridden Asian nations through bilateral arrangements. The Japanese proposal to create the AMF and the subsequent withdrawal from this plan reflect an internal clash within domestic politics and Japanese bureaucracy. Although it would be simplistic to call this a clash of pan-Asianism and pro­ Americanism, Japanese politicians and bureaucrats had their own view of international politics. Sakakibura and other bureaucrats of the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of International Trade and Industry had more multilateral Asianist perspectives to the international political economy of East Asia. Japan's Foreign Ministry (MOFA), however, emphasized bilateral relations with the United States. As explained by Hook, each of these ministries perceived clearly the challenges posed to Japan by the international structure, but the response of each and adjustment between and amongst their varying interests, which determined the final policy objectives of Japan was shaped by the norms of developmentalism, Asianism and bilateralism.21


The Shadow of History

Arguably there is no country in the world where history does not act as a constraining factor for foreign policy options. However, arguably the influence of history on Japanese foreign policy has been more intense than any other case. In no other country can a visit to a sacred place infuriate foreign capitals. In this sense, Japanese foreign policy following the Second World War has been a captive of its history. This remains to be the case after the Cold War, despite the change in the international system. With the end of the Cold War, the world has entered a new era characterized by lack of conventional security dilemmas. The demise of the Soviet empire paved the way for democratization in Eastern Europe and further integration into Western Europe. In East Asia, however, a similar integration process did not take place. Although the collapse of the Soviet Union contributed to stability in East Asia, an equally optimistic atmosphere akin to Europe was absent. In contrast to Europe, continuities rather than change characterized East Asian politics after the Cold War. Korea remained divided, with North Korea eager to go nuclear. Despite the fact that China has taken remarkable steps towards integrating its economic system with the capitalist world, its domestic political system continued to be controlled by the Communist Party. The Chinese developmental model was followed by Indo-Chinese nations. Japan and South Korea have placed larger emphasis on their relations with the United States. Although realists would have a hard time explaining European integration with its steady progress toward supranationalism, they would rejoice at pointing fingers at East Asia as a waterproof case of realism. They often neglect the role of psychological and perceptional factors rooted in the legacy of history in shaping East Asian international in the post-Cold War era.22

Japan’s relations with the rest of Asia as well as Asian relations with Japan in the post-Cold War era are shaped by the burden of history. A legacy of Japanese guilt and remorse for the suffering of Asians at the hands of the Japanese before and during the Second World War continues to cause Japan to pursue a foreign policy that lacks self­ confidence and assertiveness.23 Both this legacy itself and the inability of Japan to respond to this burden are deeply rooted in the way Japan sees its place in Asia. The previous chapters have discussed the emergence and consolidation of Japanese civilizational identity during the Meiji period and how this sense of remoteness from Asia prevented its peaceful integration with Asia during the ultra-nationalism and pan-Asianist imperialism.

In the Cold War era, Japan continued its self-identification as part of the Western, this time American, alliance. Japanese foreign policy was delegated to the United States. To the extent its suited American policies, Japan tried to develop relations with Asia through foreign aid programs. As discussed above, both liberal conservatives belonging to the Yoshida School and the right-wing conservatives belonging to the Kishi School saw alliance with the United States not only as unavoidable but also desirable and profitable. The security alliance system with the United States provided Japan maneuvering room to expand its sphere of interests into Southeast Asia. It allowed Japan not to militarize but instead to concentrate on economic development. A militarized Japan would create anxiety in the rest of Asia and complicate Japan’s difficult position. On the other hand, this comfortable security system meant that Japan did not have to face its history and redefine its position. However, with the collapse of the bipolar international system, Japan faced an identity question increasingly more seriously. The search for a Japanese national identity started in the 1980s and Japanese Prime Minister Nakasone was one of the first to recognize this need. His answer was internationalization (kokusai-ka), which tried to portray Japan as an international power. Yet internationalization was not a solution for Japan’s own conflict with itself and its civilizational identity. Such a response to Japan’s identity escapes from its confrontation with history as well as its role as an Asian power. Positioning Japan as a unique country through the Nihonjin-ron discourse or as an internationalized nation (kokusai kokka) was hardly an answer to regional challenges awaiting Japan in Asia. Despite the growing but still politically underrepresented calls for a re­Asianization of Japan, the primary difficulty for Japan to develop an Asian outlook stems from its failure to come to terms with its history. Japanese foreign policy after the Second World War has truly became a captive of its own history. Japanese political and intellectual elites have distinct approaches to this question, but one can distinguish three basic responses to the question of history: (1) confronting history, (2) escaping from history, and (3) embracing history. The first approach has ironically a very weak basis in the ruling political party, the Liberal Democratic Party. In the political platform, it is best represented by the Social Democrats. The two last approaches reflect intra-LDP conflicts, chiefly among the Hashimoto faction and the Mori faction, respectively. These two factions have direct linkages to Yoshida and Kishi schools.


Confronting History

The liberal Japanese view on how to tackle the problem of history advocates that Japan adopt the German way. Unlike Japan, Germany has arguably confronted its own history and emerged on a clean slate. For instance, it cannot be imagined that a German prime minister would visit a place of religious significance or a monument built in honor of Nazi German leaders. In Japan, however, there was no such direct confrontation with history. In comparing Japan to Germany, the mainland Chinese People's Daily argues the following: "Germany actually serves as a realistic and bright mirror for Japan. Japan that wants to be a 'normal country' should seriously compare itself with Germany, to see how Germany approaches history and takes history as a mirror.“24 The leading proponent of the idea that Japan has to follow the German example is Doi Takako, once the leader of the Social Democratic Party of Japan (SDPJ). In 1990, she prepared a parliamentary proposal to apologize for Japan's colonization of Asia and its war of aggression. It failed to win support of other parties. In 1991, some members of the LDP prepared a similar proposal, which was rejected by nationalist LDP members of the Diet. When, in 1993, LDP faced its first electoral defeat in 38 years of its history, a coalition government was formed by other parties, but due to their conflict the government collapsed in 1994. At this point, the LDP formed a coalition government with the Socialist Party, which became the Social Democratic Party (SDP), but it was the junior partner in this coalition and the position of prime minister went to moderate leftist Murayama Tomiichi. One of the deals that SDP imposed on the coalition agreement was the following: "on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the end of WWII, we will actively strive, among other things, to adopt a parliamentary resolution reflecting upon the past war and expressing our resolve for peace in the future.“25

On June 9, 1995, Diet passed the resolution titled "Resolution to Renew the Determination for Peace on the Basis of Lessons Learned from History." Unlike other policy-related resolutions proposed by the government, it obtained the support of 511 members of the lower house, the House of Representatives. On the day of the vote, all 171 members of Shin shinto (New Frontier Party), then Japan's largest opposition party, and more importantly many members of LDP were missing. Having disappointed with this level of support, Murayama did not push the resolution to the upper house, the House of Councilors, as it was normally the practice for passing a resolution in the Japanese Diet. 26 This was the first such resolution ever passed in the Japanese parliament after World War II. The content was prepared with a view of nationalist opposition in juxtaposing Japanese "colonial rule" and "acts of aggression" with those of Western imperialist nations. As Ryuji Mukae observes, it expressed hansei (self-reflection) rather than shazai or owabi (apology),27 Prime Minister Murayama issued an apology on August 15, 1995, at the fiftieth anniversary of the San Francisco Treaty. However, this apology was framed as a personal apology with the usage of "I" rather than the "we" pronouns: During a certain period in the not too distant past, Japan, following a mistaken national policy, advanced along the road to war, only to ensnare the Japanese people in a fateful crisis, and, through its colonial rule and aggression, caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, particularly to those of Asian nations. In the hope that no such mistake be made in the future, I regard, in a spirit of humility, these irrefutable facts of history, and express here once again my feelings of deep remorse and state my heartfelt apology. Allow me also to express my feelings of profound mourning for all victims, both at home and abroad, of that history.28

LDP members of the Diet expressed their reactions to Murayama's apology, arguing that the prime minister deviated from the text of the resolution passed in the parliament.29 It was also noteworthy that eight of his cabinet members were visiting Yasukuni Shrine, a shire that venerates Japan's war casualties, including fourteen executed Class-A criminals, at the time of Murayama's speech. Murayama government which never enjoyed popular support got further weakened by an allegedly slow response during the Kobe earthquake. In the 1996 general elections, socialists lost many seats in the parliament. LDP formed a coalition government and Ryfitaro Hashimoto, the former chief of LDP's liberal faction which is a direct descendant of the Yoshida faction, became prime minister. Hashimoto served as prime minister between January 11, 1996, and July 30, 1998.Clash of LDP Factions: Escaping from History vs. Embracing History Although LDP is generally very conservative and nationalistic when it comes to the matter of history, there are clearly two different positions, informed by views of Yoshida and Kishi lines. Among the largest LDP factions is Heisei KenkyUkai, led by Tsushima Yuji after former faction leader Hashimoto's death in 2006. The faction represents Yoshida's liberal conservative approach in Japanese politics, whereas the Seiwa Seisaku KenkyUkai (the former Mori faction, now led by Machimura Nobutaka) represents a more assertive and nationalist line, defending Japan's return to normal power status. It used to be the largest faction in the party. However, the recent elections and the tide of nationalism brought more nationalist members of the party to the Diet. On the question of history, however, both of these groups are highly conservative. Their chief difference stems uom disagreements not over the content of history but over the style in which historical questions need to be tackled. The Tsushima faction, its ideology derived from the Yoshida school, defends a position which can be described as "escaping from history." Their approach rests in a strategy of avoiding discussions and confrontations related to history. Consequently, in foreign policy matters, Tsushima faction prefers maintenance of Yoshida Doctrine as Japan's basic foreign policy strategy and prefer to avoid provocations in relations with China and South Korea. The Yoshida School proponents, chiefly the Tsushima faction, inside the LDP represent this view. Members of the faction firmly oppose attempts to return to the normal power status, which would require Japan to remilitarize. While in power, former faction leader Hashimoto followed policies that aimed to counter China through stronger ties with regional powers, chiefly Russia and ASEAN. In 1997, as prime minister of Japan, Hashimoto indicated his interest in developing a more assertive Japanese foreign policy characterized by regional initiatives that aimed to counter the growing power of China. He proposed his Silk Road or Eurasian diplomatic initiative aimed to develop deeper ties between Japan and Russia and oil-rich Central Asian nations. Despite the end of the Cold War, Japan and Russia remained minimal1y engaged because of the disputed islands north of Japan. Hashimoto for the first time developed a new approach to Russia by sidelining the disputed islands problem. He also offered the creation of a Eurasian region that would link both maritime and continental Asia, a plan that would provide Russia with a place in maritime zone of Asia and reduce its dependence on relations with China. With these ambitious moves, Japan was clearly aiming to avoid isolation in the context of growing Sino-Russian relations and the changes brought by the end of the Cold War. As a part of this new approach, Japan did not raise the issue of islands in supporting Russia's membership in the G-8 group. However, this strategic initiative on the part of Japan was less directly linked to regionalism initiatives in other parts of the world than to the rise of China in order to gain leverage in global politics.30 Similarly, Hashimoto’s interest in developing closer relations with Southeast Asia aimed to counter the growing influence of China. In his tour of Southeast Asia in January 1997, Hashimoto proposed regular summit meetings between Japan and Southeast Asia, a proposal which the Southeast Asian nations did not respond wholeheartedly because of their concerns with offending China.31 However, he did not agree to support creation ofa Asian regional organization that would include China and South Korea in addition to ASEAN and Japan.32 Overall, he did little to go beyond the conventional Cold War Japanese foreign policy approach that had avoided approaching Japan’s regional neighbors with self­ confidence. At the center of Japan’s difficulty in forming such relations with China and Korea was its inability to directly confront the question of history. Hashimoto faction has represented the hegemonic orientation towards history within the LDP characterized by ambivalence and reluctance to deal with the burden of history. To illustrate Hashimoto’s own stance on history, it should be noted that in 1996 Hashimoto visited the highly controversial Yasukuni Shrine eleven years after the visit by Nakasone, provoking an angry response from China that “Japan has failed to repent that period of history and settle its war crimes.“33 Hashimoto responded to these protests by asking “why should it matter anymore?“34 Yet he did not repeat the visit. Hashimoto’s own foreign policy reflected this attitude and aimed to create regional counterweights north and south of China. This, however, proved to be difficult because of China’s growing influence in the region because no regional actor was willing to sacrifice their own relations with China to offer Japan any realistic chance of countering China. Yet complicating all of these for Japan was the fact that China was growing in significance in the eyes of Americans themselves.

The Tsushima faction has represented the hegemonic Japanese school of thought during much of the Cold War when demands by the United States for Japan’s cooperation were stronger and consequently Japan had leverage on the United States. However, this strategy faced two immediate problems associated with the end of the Cold War international system. First, security in Northeast Asia was more a Japanese problem than an American one. It was Japan that needed the United States to address the problem, and the United States had insisted Japan share its cost in the form of commitment in areas beyond the Pacific, such as the Iraq War. Second, China has replaced Japan as the most significant trade partner and investment opportunity for the United States. As China was becoming fully integrated into the world economy, one could talk no longer about an exclusive American preference for Japan in the Pacific. In this sense, it was no longer feasible for Japan to expect the United States to tolerate its traditional security strategies.

The Japanese right-wing conservatives believed (and still do today) that Japanese foreign policy has been hijacked by its history and the only solution to escape from this dilemma is through embracing Japan’s historical past. This “no repentance” position has its precedent in the vision of Kishi and later Nakasone, who in a contradictory way, advocated internationalization of Japan. Such nationalists, who have risen to a hegemonic position within the LDP with the coming to power of Koizumi, have developed a revisionist stance as regards the past, particularly the Second World War and Japan’s colonization of Asia. These elements within the LDP believe that an apologetic stance is futile. If Japan wants to form a national identity, it cannot be built on shame. Although there are some revisionists who accept the need to apologize, this had to be done only to Asians rather than Western nations. They point out that the West was equally guilty for its colonization of Asia and imperialist policies but never apologized for its past.

On December 1, 1994, a number of key LDP members of Diet formed a group, called the Parliamentarians’ League on the Fiftieth Anniversary of the End of World War II (PLF A). The group, led by nationalist Okuno Seisuke, claimed an original membership of 143 members, which amounted to half of all LDP Diet members and included influential LDP leaders such as Secretary-General Mori, MITI Minister Hashimoto, former Secretary-General Kajiyama, and Japanese Defense Agency Director General Tamazawa. PLF A issued its Operational Guidelines adopted on January 31, 1995, which stated: We cannot approve of a resolution containing words of remorse, apology, and the renounciation of war because it would be tantamount to reconfirming: biased post-war interpretations of our history, thereby creating difficulties for our nation’s future.35 The group leader, former education minister Okuno Seisuke, known for his views that Japan fought the war to liberate Asians from Western colonialism, made statements to the effect that comfort women who were forced to work as sex slaves did it for money.36 Okuno believed that “the war was to liberate Asians from the colonial control of the Caucasian race.“37 The group’s secretary general was Itagaki Tadashi, son of General Itagaki Seishiro who was a military officer in Manchuria and war minister of the anny. He was convicted for war crimes and executed for his involvement in the Manchurian Incident of 1931. His son, Itagaki Tadashi, led the Japan War-Bereaved Families Association, a powerful pro-LDP group with strong ties to the Yasukuni Shrine, and was harshly critical of the Murayama government’s apologetic stance.38 In 1996, Itagaki had a famous debate with a Korean woman, Kim Sang-Hee, who claimed to have been abducted by the Japanese military in Korea and forced to work as a sex slave at the hands of the Japanese army in 1937. In response to her accusations, Mr. Itagaki told her: “I don’t believe there has ever been such a case. Are you sure that in those eight years you didn’t receive a single sen (IOOth of a yen)?”39


Japan as "Normal Power"

The second LDP approach is Japan's returning to normalcy, that is, synchronizing its economic power with a parallel military power and refusing an apologetic approach. In doing so, Japan would gain a national character and identity. Under the nationalist Koizumi government, the question of Japan's return to the "normal power" status was intensely debated. A growing group of nationalists within the LDP made demands that Japan should develop its own foreign and security policy strategy even independent of the United States. This would be possible with a military power commensurate with Japan's economic capabilities. The primary architect of Japan's return to normalcy has been Ozawa Ichiro, currently a member of the Democratic Party of Japan. Ozawa was Nakasone's Home Minister and later became LDP secretary general in 1989. He split from the LDP to form the Japan Renewal Party, which was part of the LDP-free coalition in 1993 together with other parties, including the Socialist Party. Ozawa laid down his ideas about Japan in A Blueprint for a New Japan or Nihon Kaizo Seikaku, which was his master plan to transform Japan into a "normal state," through political reforms as well as constitutional revision. In this book which came out of a study group of bureaucrats and scholars, he advocated Japan assume a larger role in UN international operations: Japan should be a "responsible member of the international community, bearing the costs of peace and freedom, and limiting the power of the central government.',40 He also defended adding a third paragraph to Article 9 of the Constitution, allowing Japan to participate actively in UN peace-keeping operations. The book caused a storm of protests in Japan, and Ozawa was accused of diverting Japan from its peaceful orientation.. Attempts to implement some of these ideas during the conservative-socialist coalition came into conflict with the position of the socialists who eventually left the coalition. It is ironic that many of these discussions have become mainstream in the current context of Japanese politics.

Case Study: Japan Finding itself again

More recently "normal power" discourse is best represented by members of the Mori faction, from which former Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro obtained his support. The current Prime Minister Abe Shintaro belongs to this group as well. Proponents of "normal power" status believe that Japan's militarization cannot be achieved independently of the United States and therefore they advocate complete support of American policies such as the Iraq War in exchange for American support for Japanese militarization. Furthermore, they favor a stronger role for Japan's emperor in politics. In this regard, former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori's remarks that Japan is a divine nation with the emperor at its core was quite noteworthy. In addition, Foreign Minister Aso urged the emperor to visit the controversial Yasukuni Shrine. Beyond discourse, the most concrete step towards "normalization" was the endorsement by former Prime Minister Koizumi of legislation to upgrade Japan's Defense Agency to a cabinet-level ministry. Japan's lack of a defense ministry was a symbol of its low profile in security matters in line with its pacifist constitution. According to Defense Agency Director General Fukushiro Nukaga, the next logical step will be scrapping Article 9. Nukaga asserts that the change would mean not only that his organization would have greater control over its policies and budget, but also the agency and troops would face new and heavy responsibilities.41 A group of young LDP leaders, including Abe Shinzo, who was elected as LDP president and consequently became prime minister in September 2006, and Foreign Minister Aso Taro, are supporters of a more assertive and independent Japanese foreign policy. Abe and Aso, maternal grandsons of Kishi and Yoshida respectively, are likely to expand Koizumi' s nationalist overtures. Despite being a maternal grandson of Yoshida Shigeru, Aso is among those who believe that his grandfather's doctrine needs to be replaced by an assertive foreign policy direction. In October 2005, Aso drew worldwide attention when he stated that Japan is the only country in the world having "one nation, one civilization, one language, one culture and one race." He sees China as a major threat to Japan: "There is a neighbouring country with a population of more than a billion that has atomic weapons, and has had double-digit growth in military spending for 17 straight years. It's becoming a considerable threat.“42

Before his election as LDP president and prime minister of Japan, Abe Shinzo was a strong supporter of Koizumi' s persistent stance on the Yasukuni Shrine issue against the pressure exerted by China and South Korea. Because of the escalation of the North Korean conflict following its claim over testing of a nuclear bomb in October 2006, Abe saw that it was necessary to obtain the support of North Korea's neighbors to address the crisis. Consequently, he has not repeated his predecessor's visits to the Yasukuni Shrine. Yet it is not clear how his nationalist stance on critical issues such as history and the Yasukuni Shrine would help him mend relations with China. Even though he has declared that his government has no intention to distance itself from the apologetic statements of the previous governments, his view on history remains revisionist as reflected on such statements that the Class-A war criminals as convicted by the Allied Powers after the war are not criminals under Japan's domestic law.43 Despite the recent attempt to resolve the North Korean issue through the Chinese help, Abe supports the view that China desires to hold Japan captive by means of the question ofhistory.44 To counter China, he proposed strategic links with India, Australia, and democratic Asian states, in addition to already existing alliance with the United States. Abe stated that his platform included the issue of constitutional reform.45 He claims that Japan needs a military that can cope with growing obligations abroad in the twenty-fIrst century. As a symbolic step that would facilitate the process of Japan's normalization, Abe believes that it is necessary and only natural to elevate the status of the Defense Agency to a cabinet-level ministry.46 Abe's other challenger Fukuda Yasuo supports the conciliatory approach to China and North Korea. Regardless of the LDP presidential elections, these two hawkish leaders will play significant roles in LDP politics, because of the definite tilt towards nationalism among young members of the LDP. They constitute the core support group for Koizumi, who was elected to the LDP presidency and became prime minister through their support. Most other members of the Machimura (former Mori) taction agree that the Yoshida Doctrine is outdated in the post-Cold War system, as Japan is no longer capable of playing with the dynamics of superpower rivalry. Hence, they argue, it is necessary for Japan to assume an independent capability of protecting its security interests in a region characterized by problems such as North Korea and the rise of China. The image of an unappreciated Japan in the Gulf War is strong in their mind set. The rival Tsushima (former Hashimoto) faction opposes this attempt for a remilitarization of Japan. Endorsing the Yoshida Doctrine, the faction advocates a cautious realism in believing that economic growth has priority to security issues, as Japan's economic power boosts its regional and international status. The Machimura faction, however, appears to believe that an economically strong but militarily weak Japan does not suit post-Cold War Japan's needs to prepare for an eventual withdrawal of the United States from Asia The Yasukuni Shrine and the History Debate Yasukuni Jinja, literally the Peaceful Nation Shrine, was built in 1869 on the orders of Emperor Meiji to honor victims of the Boshin Civil War (1868-69) that took place between the Tokugawa Shogunate and the pro-imperial forces. According to one interpretation, it is "the Japanese equivalent of America's tomb of the unknown soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.“47 However, the Yasukuni Shrine has a deeper meaning, because the war dead are not only remembered but also worshipped as, according to Shintoism, their souls are transformed into kami or deities when they died. Since then the shrine has enshrined the souls of2.5 million of Japan's war dead, which has included, since 1978, fourteen Class-A war criminals convicted by the Tokyo War Tribunal. Prime ministerial visits to the Yasukuni Shrine were always a political issue.

Although many Japanese prime ministers including Shidehara, Yoshida, Kishi, and Hashimoto visited the shrine in their individual capacity, it was Nakasone who did it for the first time in his official capacity. It is interesting to note that the Yasukuni visits are not necessarily related to factional loyalty of LDP politicians. Whereas Yoshida visited the shrine four times, militarist Kishi Nobusuke visited it only two times and Mori Yoshiro did not make any visit while in office.48 However, Nakasone's visit was significant because it was made after the controversial decision to enshrine the convicted war criminals in 1978. Only two Japanese prime ministers so far repeated Nakasone's visits: Hashimoto and Koizumi. Whereas Nakasone and Hashimoto refrained from further visits because of protests from China and South Korea, Koizumi displayed a stiff resistance to international and domestic opposition in repeating his Yasukuni Shrine attendance.49

Koizumi made six Yasukuni visits, including his August 14,2006, visit on the anniversary of the Japanese surrender, the last one before he steps out in September. Koizumi clearly utilized these visits to assert his view of Japanese nationalism and his approach to history. According to this notion, for Japan to escape from its moral capitulation to China, it needs to assert that it has nothing to feel ashamed of in its history. The Yasukuni Shrine works for this purpose because this view is shared by the way history is told at Yasukuni's controversial museum, Yushukan. Yasukini Shrine's English website greets its visitors with the message that "we hope that many worshipers will come to know the elevated thoughts of the noble souls who gave up their lives for the country that they loved." so The website has a direct link to the controversial war memorial museum, Yushukan, that is attached to the Yasukuni Shrine. Yushukan's website opens with a modem-looking flash introduction, which starts with a sentence amidst sketches of war aircraft that were used in kamikaze attacks: "The truth of modem Japanese history is now restored." The shrine's display of war pictures does not refer to any enemy but presents the war in Asia as a war for the liberation of Asia and remembers "heroic" sacrifices of the Japanese soldiers in this war. Yasukuni Shrine's English website displays a note by Kenji Ueda, president of Kokugakuin University, in which the author asserts what he calls "A Correct View of History" as follows: The text books used in history instruction at intermediate schools from the 1997 school year will contain material on the subject of comfort women. The textbooks depict as a historical fact the story of Asian women who were forced into prostitution by the Japanese Army. Imparting this story to students who are still young and immature has become a great problem since last year. This matter is drawn upon the judgment professed by the Military Tribunal for the Far East that Japan fought a war of aggression. Can we say that this view is correct? We must pass judgment on this matter in the same manner of a tribunal that passes judgment after gathering credible proof. We cannot help but feel that the possibility of ulterior motives have not been discounted. Isn't it a fact that the West with its military power invaded and ruled over much of Asia and Africa and that this was the start of East-West relations? There is no uncertainty in history. Japan's dream of building a Great East Asia was necessitated by history and it was sought after by the countries of Asia. We cannot overlook the intent of those who wish to tarnish the good name of the noble souls of Yasukuni.51

The Yasukuni Shrine's display of history closely follows ideological trends in Japan. With the rise of nationalism in the country, there is a greater acceptance and endorsement of this view of history. As Richard Bitzinger explains: Ten years ago that museum contained some expressions of regret and remorse for the loss of life, both Japanese and foreign... .Back then there wasn't an effort to tell a story about the war. Now, it is revisionist. A whitewash. Major battles where many thousands lost their lives on both sides are simply called Japanese "operations" or "incidents.“52 Japanese businessmen and intellectuals seem to be divided on the issue of prime ministerial visits to the shrine. Fukuoka District Court ruled out on April 7, 2004, that Koizumi's visits contravened the constitutional principle of secularism. Four major Japanese newspapers appeared to be divided on the court decision: Asahi and Mainichi were supportive of the court, whereas Yomiuri and Sankei were critical. Intense debate in the Japanese media illustrates the nationwide controversy of the issue, as "Japanese media rarely experience such disagreement on legal matters."53 For instance, in an opinion piece that appeared on the Daily Yomiuri, Yoshiyuki Kasai, the chairman of Central Japan Railways, strongly urges Koizumi and his successors not to stop visits: The Yasukuni issue, from the Chinese point of view, is a kind of allegiance test to see whether Tokyo will bow to Beijing. Accordingly, not only Koizumi, but also his successor, must not avoid visiting the shrine, irrespective of their individual beliefs. China, in its pursuit of hegemony over the Asian-Pacific region, is trying to split public opinion in Japan and drive a wedge between Japan and the Unite States. For the Chinese, the Yasukuni issue is nothing but a convenient tool to use in this strategy. 54

The right-wing nationalist Sankei newspaper was highly supportive of Koizumi's visits and urge him not to stop them. 55 In an opinion piece that appeared in Asahi Shimbun, Taichi Sakaiya, a former bureaucrat at MITI, believes that Koizumi should make these visits in a private capacity and explain the rationale behind his visits better. The author argues that because Yasukuni is a religious place, visiting the shrine by a state official in his official capacity violates the principle of secularism. On the other hand, he claims praying at the shrine should be viewed in the context of Shintoism, which is based on the belief system that "all people good or bad become 'deities' when they die. People worship good gods to seek their blessings and offer prayers to bad gods to deliver them from evil.,,56 In an interesting development, eight former prime ministers expressed their disappointment with Koizumi' s insistence to visit the Yasukuni. They met the former House of Representatives Speaker Yohei Kono. Kono, who was one of LDP's most senior politician known for his long career as a Foreign Minister and known as pro-Chinese, asked Koizumi to consider his visits, but Koizumi insisted that he would make the most appropriate decision. 57


The Question of China and the United States

The emergence of China as a global economic power has been the most important challenge for Japan. While in the context of the Cold War, Japan could ignore China and rely on the United States for its security and economic relations, this appears to be increasingly difficult. In the 1980s, the major academic and political attention on East Asia was centered on Japan; China has regained its central status. The discourse of “Japan as Number One” has been replaced by the debates that highlight the growing significance of China. 58 China has replaced the United States as Japan’s largest trading partner, and China became the third largest trade partner of the United States after Canada and Mexico. Currently Japan exports more to China than to the United States, helping to ease its  economic troubles and preventing a fall into recession. Also, Japan is China’s top import supplier. Trade volume between Japan and China, including Hong Kong, reached $213 billion in 2004, accounting for 20.1 percent of Japan’s total trade. Trade volume between Japan and the United States was $197 billion, which amounted to 19 percent of total Japanese exports and imports.59

China is integrating its economy heavily with the United States, decreasing Japan’s relative significance to the United States.60 Arguably, both economically and politically the world’s most important bilateral relations are between the United States and China. Chiefly through sales by Wal-Mart corporation, which is the most significant importer of Chinese goods in the United States, China has become the number 1 exporter to the United States.61 China is a large investment zone for American companies. However, the direction of investment is not one-way. China has started to invest in the United States through purchase of key American companies such as IBM computers.62 While the Chinese bids to buy other American companies such as the oil giant Unocal have provoked an intensive debate in the U.S. Congress for security implications, the United States is well aware of China’s importance for the U.S. economy and hardly in a position to take any preventive measures against Chinese investments. Meanwhile, the United States became China’s largest export destination. Like many American companies, Japanese companies utilize China as a production base to export into the U.S. market and the Japanese exports to China are partly used in Japanese-owned production facilities in China. Despite China’s growing significance to Japan, the perceptions of China in Japan remains low. Opinion poll research data indicate favorable opinion of China has declined, particularly after the Koizumi government came into office. In an opinion poll conducted by Asahi Shimbun in 1999, only 30 percent of the respondents in Japan answered affirmatively to the question, “in the future, do you think China and Japan will be able to work together to adopt the same common values about democracy and a market economy?” Only 55 percent of the respondents did not believe that they will be able to work together. According to the same poll, 55 percent of the respondents thought that relations of Japan with the United States were more important than those with China, whereas only 15 percent of the respondents pointed to China as the more important partner and 21 percent indicated that both countries were equally significant. 63 In another poll sponsored by the Japanese government, Japanese respondents were asked how closely they felt toward China. The results were as follows: 12 percent very closely, 37 percent rather closely, 30 percent not very closely, 18 percent not closely at all.64

However, in 2004, a cabinet office survey finds that only 37.6 percent of the respondents feel friendly towards China, and 58.2 percent of them do not. Interestingly, the same poll finds pro-South Korean feelings as increasing. When it comes to South Korea, 56.7 percent of the respondents indicated favorable opinion.65 In this regard, the anti-Japanese feelings expressed in China following Koizumi’s provocative Yasukuni Shrine visits seemed to have exacerbated anti-Chinese feelings among the Japanese public.

In addition to the China problem, the emergence of a nuclear North Korea is the most significant challenge for Japan. A nuclear North Korea would significantly reduce Japan’s relative security position in East Asia. Japanese sense of security and confidence will dwindle in the context of Korean and Chinese nuclear powers. Again, Japanese response to this challenge can never be free from its historical baggage. If Japan resorts to nuclear weapons on its own, this would be reacted by other Asians. If Japan maintains its current policy of relying on the U.S. security umbrella, then it would also be seen as half­ hearted. The shadow of history haunts Japanese foreign policy options. However, there is no single way to look at this dilemma. Japanese intellectuals, policymakers, and opposition groups have their distinct ways to approach the problem, in such ways that render use of “national identity” highly problematic.  

Japan and the Iraq War

Former Prime Minister Koizumi will be remembered for his assertive pro-U.S. stance. Like his factional predecessor Kishi, Koizumi believed in a utilitarian approach to relations with the United States and sought to utilize this alliance to increase Japanese assertiveness in foreign policy. The Koizumi government contributed to the post­ September 11 U.S. foreign policy both in discursive and practical ways. In addition to its dispatch of naval forces to the Indian Ocean during the Afghanistan War, Japan made its first deployment of troops to a conflict zone, Iraq, after the Second World War. According to polls, a majority of the people opposed their country’s sending troops to Iraq. The critics asserted that this was a clear violation of Article 9, which banned Japan from sending troops to conflict zones. However, the government legally justified its dispatch of troops, arguing that Shiite-populated Samawah where Japanese troops were stationed in Iraq was itself a nonconflict zone. However, as Japan’s well-known Middle East expert Sakai Keiko argues, the entire country had to be considered as a conflict zone rather than a part of it and thus legality of the government’s claim is highly disputed. Bb Sasaki Takeshi, president of Tokyo University, “WTites that the deployment of troops to the Iraq War can be interpreted as one consequence of the post-Cold War history of U.S.-Japan relations. According to him, three factors contributed to Japan’s decisions:

1. The Gulf War paranoia: Japan was not appreciated for its financial contribution short of military commitment.

2. North Korea as a suspected nuclear power prevents Japan from completely disentangling itself from the U.S. security umbrella. Continued U.S. commitment to Japan’s defense required Japan to similarly be committed to U.S. security priorities: “an assessment that the war in Iraq is a war against international terrorism is not totally absent in Japan, but in comparison with Spain, for example, the circumstances are fundamentally different because of the issues surrounding North Korea.”

3. Personal relations between Koizumi and Bush are the closest between the leaders of these countries since the era of Nakasone and Reagan.67 The Gulf War diplomacy of Japan was largely criticized by the United States despite the fact that Japan contributed to the war cost. As a Foreign Ministry official states, “we shouldn’t shoulder war costs.. . . Our effort was not appreciated much in the time of the Gulf War, and we  faced criticism that we only offered money.“68 However, the Gulf War syndrome of Japan cannot be thought of independently of its quest for returning to a normal power nation status under the Koizumi government. Moreover, international legality and popularity of the Iraq War were very much in question so that no Gulf country asked Japan to contribute to the war. Japan could side with the rest of the world in not joining the United States and still show its independent foreign policy abilities. In comparison, Germany, which was in a comparable situation with Japan in terms of returning to normal power status following the Cold War, chose to exert its political power by not joining the United States. For Turkey as well, refusing to allow U.S. troop passage was an attempt to escape the Cold War international system, which locked the country in complete obedience to the United States. Hence the Gulf War syndrome appears to be a useful discourse to convince public opinion that Japan had to be more involved in international crisis. Meanwhile, Japanese public opinion remained overwhelmingly opposed to the deployment of SDF. As of July 2004, the support level is slightly above 30 percent while Koizumi government has been losing support in parallel to the Iraq war.69

It should be noted, however, that this level of support was in the context of no Japanese military casualty so far in the Iraq War. In historical comparison, the Iraq dispatch of Japanese troops is the first extension of Japanese alliance with any Western power in its history beyond the Pacific. In the Anglo-Japanese alliance during the First World War, Japan limited its alliance responsibility to the Asia-Pacific region. Thus, the dispatch is not only legally but also symbolically a controversial issue. It also shows continuation of Japan’s Western orientation and inability to devise diplomacy independence from the U.S.-Japan alliance system. One of the foreign policy expectations of the Koizumi government from the Iraq War is to obtain U.S. support for a permanent Security Council seat in the United Nations. Koizumi has eagerly lobbied for this goal that would give Japan a global security role and contribute to its return to normal power status. With the calls for reforming the UN system, Japan appears to be a strong contender for a permanent UN Security Council seat. The other candidates are Germany, India, and Brazil. The United States supports the bid of Japan but opposes Germany apparently because of its opposition to the Iraq War, despite the fact that Germany is the second largest contributor of troops to UN-mandated missions. Condoleezza Rice refused to endorse the German bid: “the only country that we have said unequivocally that we support is Japan, having to do with Japan’s special role in the U.N. and support for the U.N.“70 The support of the United States appears to be a key factor for Japan to achieve this goal; therefore Japan’s participation in the coalition in the Iraq War was timely. However, any reform within the UN system must be approved by all current veto-holding members of the Security Council that includes China. The Chinese strictly object to Japan’s quest for a permanent Security Council seat. In April 2005, during a state visit to India, Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, supported Indian ambition to gain a permanent seat, but objected to that of Japan by arguing that Japan need to face up to history before seeking such a goal.71 Once again, Japan confronts the challenge of China in its drive to achieve a global security role. China utilized the Internet in the form of online petitions with millions of people signing their names in opposition to the Japanese bid.72


Conclusion P.2

The end of the Cold War meant the end of Japan's comfortable escape from its history. It also meant that Japan could no longer enjoy a privileged relationship with the United States while China was isolated from the international system. This special relationship had allowed Japan to escape from any further punishment for its past and to retain its political system as symbolized by the dramatic comeback of Kishi Nobusuke who has his personal signature in many of the prewar decisions. Due to this special relationship, Japan was not tolerated and allowed to forget rather than deal with its war history and its occupation of Asia. In this regard, much was in contrast with Germany, which, having dealt with the question of history, was able to further the process of integration in Europe. One can regard the entire history of Japanese foreign policy as a response to the question of how to locate China in Japanese national identity. Once removed from its central place in the Meiji era, China never returned back to its original place in Japanese identity. In the post-Cold War security and economic structure in East Asia, however, Japan has faced a new reality about China. It was a regional and increasingly global actor. Japan's ability to reconcile its identity and reality will shape the future relations between these two countries.

The end of the Cold War did not necessarily bring improvements in Japan's security environment. The question of North Korea remains unsolved. If the nuclear ambitions of North Korea are fully materialized, this leaves the Japanese with a situation in which they are the only nonnuclear East Asian nation. Given the uncertainty about the prospects of American military presence in East Asia, this may lead Japanese to search for their own nuclear power in the context of historically rooted culture of insecurity. It is hard to predict future developments in Japanese foreign policy. Much depends on whether nationalists continue to rule the country. Much depends on the questions of the military presence of the United States in East Asia, the question of North Korea, and ultimately the future role that China desires to play. The Korean situation and the rise of China have changed the ideational context in East Asia to the advantage of nationalists. Consequently, the nationalist faction within the LDP has solidified its power, having occupied the position of prime minister in the last ten years. Unless antinationalist LDP factions and parties are able to put a more organized resistance, one can only expect an increasingly assertive Japanese foreign policy. In this situation, Japan's return to its "normal" status will be unavoidable. However, nationalists will not bring a change to Japan's long-term psychological isolation from Asia. Under them, Japan will remain a country that is physically in Asia but psychologically remote from it. If this emotional distance from the continent is not addressed, Japan may be destined to remain as a marginal power in the shadows of the United States and China. Most recently then, Yasuo Fukuda appointed his new team Sept. 24, 2007, a day after being elected as Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party's new president. The resignation of Japan's previous prime minister, Shinzo Abe, and the election of Fukuda is about restrengthening the LDP for the next election (likely within the next two years) and continuing the general trend of LDP policies initiated under Abe's predecessor, Junichiro Koizumi. Fukuda's election is about a tightening of internal party control, necessary before reform efforts can be reinjected with momentum. Internal reform efforts -- aimed at reconfiguring the underlying economic structures (such as postal bank reform and pension reform) and at breaking Japanese politics from its habit of constant backroom dealings -- have progressed little since Koizumi left office. The need for economic reform has barely changed since Abe's first day in office. Japan's budget deficit and national debt, as percentages of gross domestic product, are still the highest in the developed world. Furthermore, Japan's demographic aging and shrinking suggests that (far) worse times are ahead. Economic reform is imperative if the Japanese system is ever to lift out of its indefinite decline, but domestic inertia and rural resistance are at record highs.

Fukuda was chosen primarily as a person about whom few could complain. He is nearly 20 years older than Abe and has more political experience than his predecessor. The son of a former prime minister, Fukuda has worked in at least three different administrations; his most recent position was chief Cabinet secretary. He is seen as a "fixer" and formulated the Koizumi government's response and foreign policy position after 9/11, coordinating the passage of the anti-terrorism special measures law. Although focusing tightly on foreign policy at the expense of domestic priorities was what brought his predecessor down, Fukuda is slated to continue with Abe's warming toward China and South Korea. Not only will he not pay homage to the Yasukuni Shrine (a Japanese memorial housing 14 convicted Class-A war criminals, Japanese prime ministerial visits to which are an extremely sensitive subject with both Beijing and Seoul), but he also likely will come out and officially confirm that he has no plans to visit the shrine. In terms of relations with the United States, Fukuda likely will continue to use the United States' regional needs -- such as Japan's cooperation in security -- as well as various offers from Washington in order to strengthen and expand Japan's interests within the region.

If anything, Fukuda will face a tougher time than his immediate predecessor. Abe at least could count on the echo effect, drawing from Koizumi's legacy and popularity. Fukuda begins on the same "square one" where Abe started in September 2006 as far as challenges are concerned -- but he follows Abe, who was unsuccessful because he failed to address domestic social priorities directly and lacked the eccentric qualities (a la Koizumi) to endear him to the Japanese public and to play various LDP factions against each other. It was not Koizumi's reform agenda that made him successful; it was his strategy of keeping his opponents guessing and daring to challenge convention. Looking ahead, more important to watch is the rise of Ichiro Ozawa, leader of the opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), whose mission for the last year has been to dislodge Abe. Despite his party affiliation, his policies and ideals are more akin to those of the LDP core conservatives than to those of his DPJ counterparts. Even if LDP deputy leader Taro Aso had won the prime ministerial post instead of Abe, the need to balance out powerful party factions -- many of which are resistant to change -- would remain. Fukuda is not any more significant than Abe in the sense that both are cogs within a Japanese system that continues evolving in the post-Cold War reality. And the twin rewards of autonomy and prestige are within Japan's grasp for the first time in living memory. To reduce associated risks, Japan will be cautious. It will be normal. It will hedge. The security strategy and institutions abetting this hedge will be neither too hard nor too soft.

Case Study: The Rearmament of Japan

Finally then, on Oct. 15 North Korean and Japanese officials met in China, for two days of normalization talks, results of which have not been analysed by the time of writing although what can be said with certainty is that there will be more talks soon.

As for today, while Japan's imperial past gives the country some influence throughout East Asia, it mostly has earned Japan enmity. Particularly vitriolic is the contempt in which Japan is held by the Koreans, who resent Japanese cultural influence, economic domination and attempts to forcibly redefine Korean identity during the Japanese occupation. North Korea launched a ballistic missile over Japan in 1998 in a show of force, and in 2006, Pyongyang tested a nuclear device. Marry those two technologies and Japan clearly has a pressing need for NMD, and this is even before the economic might of South Korea is combined with North Korean military technology in a reunification that is crawling ever closer.

Now then, in the past few days, suddenly Russia's attention has come to rest on Japan, the state that is most consistent in its effort to participate in national missile defense (NMD), and on Tuesday, the Japanese government flatly, officially and firmly rebuffed Russian calls to abandon the system. The core Russian concern is that the system ultimately will be fine-tuned and expanded so that it can hedge in Moscow, something that may well be lurking about in the depths of U.S. strategic planning. But Japan wants NMD for its own reasons. China, of course, offers a more direct and immediate challenge for Japan. As big as Asia is, it probably does not have room for both a land-based and a sea-based regional superpower. Japan's technological edge combined with China's existing nuclear arsenal leaves Japan pushing for NMD, no matter what the Russians do. But even without the more pressing concern of Asia pushing Japan toward NMD cooperation with the United States, Russia is on Tokyo's radar. The two hardly have a friendly history: Japan has served as Washington's proxy in East Asia, blocking Soviet access to the Pacific. Russia still has not reached a peace accord with Japan, for World War 2. And before that, Japan defeated Moscow in the 1904-1905 Russo-Japanese War, becoming the only Asian state to defeat a European power and inflicting the geopolitical equivalent of a root canal. Clearly however, the Kremlin currently  is attempting to put pins in a number of potential conflicts in order to focus on its own immediate concerns. But so far as Japan is concerned, Russia remains firmly on the "future trouble" list.


1 Peter J. Katzenstein and Nobuo Okawara, "Japan and Asian-Pacific Security," in Rethinking Security in East Asia: Identity, Power, and Efficiency, ed. J. J. Suh, Peter J. Katzenstein, and Allen Carlson (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2004), 110.

2 Ibid.

3 Ibid.

4 David Kang, "Hierarchy and Stability in Asian International Relations," in International Relations Theory and the Asia-Pacific, ed. G. John Ikenberry and Michael Mastanduno (New York: Columbia University Press, 2003), 177.

5 Masaru Tamamoto, IIAmbigious Japan: Japanese National Identity at Century's End," in International Relations Theory and the Asia-Pacific, ed. G. John Ikenberry and Michael Mastanduno (New York: Columbia University Press, 2003).

6 "Democracy 'key to national identity'," Yomiuri Shimbun, November 6,2003.

7 Linda Low, "The East Asian Economic Grouping," the Pacific Review 4, no. 4 (1991).

8 Funabashi Y oichi, "East Asia's History Creating Mistrust," Asahi Shimbun, January 04, 2005. Also see, Yoichi Funabashi, "The Asianization of Asia," Foreign Affairs 72, no. 5 (1993).

9 Kobayashi Y otaro, "Re-Asianization Does Not Mean Isolation," Los Angeles Times, December 3, 1991.

10 Kobayashi Y otaro, "Good Neighbors Japan and China Should Lead Post-Cold War Asia," Phoenix Gazette, December 12, 1991.

11 Funabashi Yoichi, "Japan Needs its 'Own' Asian Vision," Asahi Shim bun, December 14,2004. Also see Funabashi, "The Asianization of Asia."

12 Hama Noriko, "The 'Vision Thing' Comes to Japan in Blurry Fashion," Japan Times, March 28, 2005.

13 Kazuo Ogura, "'Ajia Fukken' No Tame Ni," Chuo Karon, July 1992. Quoted in Pyle, 47.

14 For an American critic ofneo-liberal economic philosophy on the Asian financial crisis, see Chalmers Johnson, "Let's Revisit Asia's 'Crony Capitalism'," Los Angeles Times, June 25, 1999.

15 Ishihara Shintaro, "Japan Must Help the Region Resist American Control," Asiaweek October 16, 1998.

16 Glenn D. Hook et aI., "Japan and the East Asian Financial Crisis: Patterns, Motivations and Instrumentalisation of Japanese Regional Economic Diplomacy," European Journal of East Asian Studies I (2002): 183.

17 Sandra Sugawara, "Japan Approves Bank Rescue Plan," Washington Post, February 17, 1998.

18 Hook et aI., "Japan and the East Asian Financial Crisis: Patterns, Motivations and Instrumentalisation of Japanese Regional Economic Diplomacy," 177.

19 Ibid.

20 "Mr. Yen's World, An Interview with "Liberated" Ex-Bureaucrat Sakakibara Eisuke," Asiaweek, January 6, 2000, expanded online version, 01062000/ accessed July 26,2005.

21 Hook et aI., "Japan and the East Asian Financial Crisis: Patterns, Motivations and Instrumentalisation of Japanese Regional Economic Diplomacy," 177.

22 Some of the realist interpretations of East Asian politics in the post-Cold War period concede the role of historical legacy as a determining factor that shape security perceptions. See Thomas J. Christensen, "China, the U.S.-Japan Alliance, and the Security Dilemma in East Asia," International Security 23, no. 4 (1999). While such an eclectic approach is helpful, it contradicts realism's commitment to materialist ontology. For a defense of eclecticism, see Peter J. Katzenstein and Rudra Sil, "Rethinking Asian Security: A Case for Analytical Eclecticism," in Rethinking Security in East Asia: Identity, Power, and Efficiency, ed. J. J. Suh, Peter J. Katzenstein, and Allen Carlson (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2004).

23 For a discussion of the role of the burden of history on Japan's relations with China, see Michael H. Armacost and Kenneth B. Pyle, Japan and the Engagement of China: Challenges for us. Policy Coordination (Seattle: The National Bureau of Asian Research, 2001).

24 For a Chinese view on the subject, see "Japan should take Germany as its 'mirror'," People's Daily (China), April 22, 2005.

25 Asahi Shimbun, 29 June 1994, quoted in Ryuji Mukae, "Japan's Diet Resolution on World War Two: Keeping History at Bay," Asian Survey 36, no. 10 (1996): 1014.

26 Ibid., 1011.

27 Ibid., 1011-12.

28 Statement by Prime Minister Murayama Tomiichi on August 15, 1995, the fiftieth anniversary of the Asia-Pacific War. Many Asian leaders expressed their disappointment at the personal tone of the Murayama speech. For instance, see "Singapore Premo Doubts Murayama's War Apology," Jiji Press Ticker Service, August 28, 1995.

29 "LDP says Murayama deviated from Diet no-war resolution," Kyodo News Agency, August 22, 1995.

30 Gilbert Rozman, Northeast Asia's Stunted Regionalism: Bilateral Distrust in the Shadow of Globalization (Cambridge, UK; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 191-92.

31 Michael Richardson, "Hashimoto's Visit Takes Up the Japan-China Balance: Tokyo Poses ASEAN Puzzle," International Herald Tribune, January 8, 1997.

32 Michael Richardson, "Tiptoeing Past China, Japan Extends a Hand to Asia," International Herald Tribune, January 15, 1997.

33 Samuel Kim, China and the World, Donald W. Klein, "Japan and Europe in China's Foreign Relations," in China and the World: Chinese Foreign Policy Faces the New Millennium, ed. Samuel S. Kim (Boulder: Westview Press, 1998), 141.

34 Mainichi Daily, December 3, 1996.

35 Asahi Shimbun, 29 June, 1994, quoted in Mukae, "Japan's Diet Resolution on World War Two: Keeping History at Bay," 1015.

36 Sydney Morning Herald, June 6, 1996.

37 Quoted in !ida, Rethinking Identity in Modern Japan, Nationalism as Aesthetics, 198.

38 "War-Bereaved Families in Dilemma," Asahi Shimbun, July 8, 2005.

39 The Weekend Australian, June 8, 1996.

40 Ichiro Ozawa, Blueprint for a New Japan: The Rethinking of a Nation (Tokyo:
Kodansha, 1994). For a review of this book, see Chalmers Johnson, review of Review of Blueprint for a New Japan: The Rethinking of a Nation by Ozawa Ichiro, Monumenta Nipponica 49, no. 3 (1994).

41 Steve Herman, "Japan to Upgrade Defense Agency to Ministry," Voice of America (VOA), June 09, 2006. Katzenstein and Okawara, "Japan and Asian-Pacific Security."

42 Takeshi Oda, "Japan's Foreign Minister Should Watch His Words," The Star (Malaysia), February 24, 2006.

43 "Abe Clarifies Views on 'History Issue', Reaffirms Government Apologies," Yomiuri Shimbun, October 7,2006.

44 "Yasukuni Key to LDP Presidency," Yomiuri Shimbun, June 9, 2005.

45 "LDP Presidential Race," Asahi Shimbun, May 26, 2006.

46 Steve Hennan, "Japan to Upgrade Defense Agency to Ministry," Voice of America (VOA), June 09, 2006.

47 Masaru Tamamoto, "A Land without Patriots, the Yasukuni Controversy and Japanese Nationalism," World Policy Journal 18, no. 40 (2001): 34.

48 Phil Deans, "Yasukuni Shrine in the Context of East Asian Nationalisms," unpublished paper.

49 For a comparison between the visits to Yasukuni Shrine by Nakasone and Koizumi, see Shibuichi, "The Yasukuni Shrine Dispute and the Politics ofIdentity in Japan: Why All the Fuss?."

50 See the official website of the Yasukuni Shrine,

51 Kenji Ueda, "The Noble Souls ofYasukuni-Eternally," (accessed: June 12,2006).

52 "Koizumi's Visits Boost Controversial Version of History," Christian Science Monitor, October 21, 2005.

53 Kiroku Hanai, "A Laudible Yasukuni Ruling," Japan Times, April 26, 2004.

54 Yoshiyuki Kasai, "China using Yasukuni as 'Test of Allegiance'" Daily Yomiuri, June 26, 2005.

55 Sankei Shimbun published Ishihara Shintaro's recent book: Shintaro Ishihara, Nippon Yo (Tokyo: Sankei Shimbun, 2002).

56 Taichi Sakaiya, "Koizumi Should Explain His Yasukuni Visits," Asahi Shimbun, July 21, 2005.

57 "Yasukuni Key to LDP Presidency," the Daily Yomiuri, June 9, 2005. Also "Yasukuni Dake Ga Nichhuu No Mondai Canai, Koizumi Shushou," Asahi Shimbun, July 19, 2005.

58 Ezra F. Vogel, Japan as Number One: Lessonsfor America (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1979) and Ezra F. Vogel, Japan as Number One: Revisited (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 1986). Japanese edition of this book was an all-time best seller in the 1980s. Also see Henny Sender, "China Inc. Looks Set to Outdo Old Japan Inc," Wall Street Journal- Eastern Edition, June 24 ,2005.

59 Paul Blustein, "China Passes U.S. in Trade with Japan, 2004 Figures Show Asian Giant's Muscle," Washington Post, January 27, 2005.

60 Meanwhile, China has enlarged its trade relations with Europe as well. European Union has replaced the United States as China's largest trading partner. China is EU's second-largest exporter and third-largest importer. See "Europe's new protectionism," The Economist, July 1, 2005, 49.

61 Wal-Mart alone imported $18 billion worth of Chinese goods in 2004, making it China's eighth-largest trading partner, with a volume of trade larger than that of Australia, Canada, and Russia. Neil C. Hughes, "A Trade War with China?," Foreign Affairs 84 (2005): 94 For Wal-Mart's own expansion in China, see Clay Chandler et aI., "The Great Wal-Mart of China," Fortune, July 252005 For a skeptical analysis of the implications of China's rise for the United States, see Ted C. Fishman, China, Inc.: How the Rise of the Next Superpower Challenges America and the World (New York: Scribner, 2005).

62 Sender, "China Inc. Looks Set to Outdo Old Japan Inc."

63 Asahi Shimbun, March 17, 1999.

64 Shin Joho Center, August 1, 1999.

65 "Public opinion of China hits record low, national poll shows," Japan Times, December 20, 2004.

66 Eric Prideaux, interview by Keiko Sakai, Japan Times, January 9, 2005.

67 "Bush and Koizumi," the Journal of Japanese Trade and Industry (JJTI), July 1, 2004.

68 "Japan Won't Pay for Iraq War: LDP Exec," Japan Times, February 27, 2003.

69 "Japan's Foreign Policy-From Pacifism to Populism," the Economist, July 8, 2004.

70 Transcript: "Rice, Germany's Fischer Discuss Iran, Iraq, Mideast, U.N. Reform," June
8,2005, the Bureau of Intemational Information Programs, U.S. Department of State.

71 Michael Collins, "Riots and Remembrance: Rising Tensions between China and Japan," Contemporary Review 286 (2005): 336. Also see "Japan's Imperialist Past Haunts Its Bid for Security Council Seat." Wall Street Journal, April I, 2005; and, Sebastian Moffett, Charles Hutzler, and Hae Won Choi, "Japan's Imperialist Past Haunts Its Bid for Security Council Seat," Wall Street Journal- Eastern Edition, April I, 2005.

72 "'No' to Japan's UN Bid Gets Millions of Clicks," Xinhua News Agency, March 30, 2005.

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